The off-season got off to a quick start on Thursday, as two players accepted qualifying offers and the best reliever on the market inked a multi-year deal. Jose Abreu and Jake Odorizzi both accepted their qualifying offers from the White Sox and Twins respectively, opting to head back into free agency without draft pick compensation attached to them. Will Smith declined his qualifying offer from the Giants and signed a three-year deal worth $39 million to become the eighth-inning guy for the Braves.
The Abreu thing doesn’t really matter, but both Odorizzi and Smith have effects on the Blue Jays. Smith signing suggests that Ken Giles’ market might start to heat up. Once one big domino falls like this, others generally tend to follow behind. Whichever teams miss out on the big relievers will likely be in on Giles. It also gives us an idea of what it would cost to keep Giles around if that becomes an option.
Odorizzi was one of the names the Jays had already been in touch with as a free agent. They met with his agent and apparently even fielded an offer, but the Jays ultimately weren’t able to persuade him from betting on himself on the one-year qualifying offer. This is disappointing because Odorizzi really seemed like an ideal fit. He isn’t old, he’s got AL East experience, and he knows Charlie Montoyo from his time in Tampa Bay. Oh well, there’s always next year.
Another free agent the Jays were connected to early in free agency was Yasmani Grandal. But as Scott Mitchell suggests, it’s hard to imagine they’ll end up making a deal.
Confident in saying #BlueJays meeting with catcher Yasmani Grandal and his agent at GM meetings was more an info gathering session than anything else. Not saying it won’t happen, but I definitely wouldn’t bet that it does.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) November 14, 2019
Grandal is one of the biggest free agents on the market. He’s coming off of a one-year deal with the Brewers in which he slashed a .246/.380/.468. Coupled with good defence, Grandal was worth 5.2 wins, the second-most among catchers last season.
But the Jays will kick tires and meet with a bunch of free agents. This was apparently more of an info-gathering session rather than anything serious. As Ben Nicholson-Smith writes at Sportsnet, this could give us an idea as to where the Jays’ off-season will go.
If the team continues to swing and miss at the good starting pitching on the open market, they could opt to sign a quality free agent and make a trade. Adding Grandal, for example, would give the Jays a very good veteran catcher, making Danny Jansen, a quality young catcher, available in a trade to acquire a starting pitcher.
Another free agent name I’ve seen tossed around is Hyun-Jin Ryu, who could be a nice fit for the Jays if they don’t want to go as far as four or five years on a contract with a pitcher. Jon Morosi appeared on Real Good Show suggesting that Ryu could be open to signing with the Jays.
— Sportsnet 590 The FAN (@FAN590) November 13, 2019
Ryu is certainly an exciting idea. He led the National League in ERA last season and finished as the runner-up to Jacob de Grom for the Cy Young award. If not for a few bad starts towards the end of the season, he probably would have won. Ryu was virtually unhittable in the first half of the season, but some nagging injuries later on ultimately slowed him down.
That’s kind of been the issue with Ryu forever. As good as he is as a seemingly effortless pitcher who tosses soft, locates well, and can log innings, Ryu is held back by his inability to stay healthy. He missed all of 2015 after undergoing shoulder surgery, he returned in 2016 briefly but ended up missing most of the season due to elbow pain, and he missed half of the 2018 season due to a groin injury. He also had Tommy John surgery when he was in high school.
But, I mean, there’s a ridiculous amount of upside there, and it might be worth the risk. Beggars can’t be choosers, so if there’s a quality pitcher out there, the Jays might be best to just take the gamble, especially if he’s willing to take a shorter-term deal than some of the other big arms out there.
A couple of weeks ago, Mark Shapiro appeared on Sportsnet 590 to talk about a whole bunch of off-season stuff, and he said that Vlad Jr. had been pushing himself incredibly hard in his off-season training.
— MLB Daily Lineups (@DailyMLBLineups) November 7, 2019
Vlad has posted a few videos of his off-season workouts on Instagram so far, but this video posted by “teamguerrero27” shows a guy with a completely different body than we saw last year. Holy shit!